by Mike Ratliff
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV)
I was taught in College when writing a newspaper story or a paper that we should never state facts without corroboration via quotes from accepted authorities using documentation to back it up. However, I have found it very difficult to do this lately in the articles I post here. I have used J.I. Packer a lot over the last several years because of his summary writing of works such as John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Jesus Christ. However, it has been pointed out to me that J.I. Packer seems to be one who writes wonderfully true expositions of Biblical truth while also compromising with the very ones we oppose in their stands to corrupt our faith and attack the church with false doctrines, et cetera. My good friend Ken Silva pointed this out to me via this post.
My response to this is to become ever more dependent upon God’s Word alone as the source of the truth I teach here. With men, we have inconsistencies, but never with God. However, the more I meditated on this and considered the ugliness of what is going on in the visible church now, I realized that God was teaching me something. We err if we focus on the temporal for fulfillment. We will eventually find ourselves mystified at some Christian leader’s lack of integrity or his tendency to compromise with those we know are apostate. This tests our faith and shows us that our focus needs to be heavenward rather than the here and now. This is called walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
When we walk this way we cannot do so simply by will power. We must have God’s help. He must enable us to do this as we surrender more and more of our grip on the temporal and give it all to Him. The following prayer, “Faith,” is from The Valley of Vision.
I bless thee that thou hast given me the eye of faith, to see thee as Father, to know thee as a covenant God,to experience thy love planted in me;
For faith is the grace of union by which I spell out my entitlement to thee:
Faith casts my anchor upwards where I trust in thee and engage thee to be my Lord.
Be pleased to live and move within me, breathing in my prayers, inhabiting my praises, speaking in my words, moving in my actions, living in my life, causing me to grow in grace.
Thy bounteous goodness has helped me believe, but my faith is weak and wavering, its light dim, its steps tottering, its increase slow, its backslidings frequent;
It should scale the heavens but lies groveling in the dust.
Lord, fan this divine spark into glowing flame.
When faith sleeps, my heart becomes an unclean thing, the fount of every loathsome desire, the cage of unclean lusts all fluttering to escape, the noxious tree of deadly fruit, the open wayside of earthly tares.
Lord, awake faith to put forth its strength until all heaven fills my soul and all impurity is cast out.
What is this faith? According to the writer of the book of Hebrews it is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Here is v1 in Koine Greek: εστιν δε πιστις ελπιζομενων υποστασις πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων. Word for word into English would be: “Is but trust of being hoped substance, practices rebuke not of being seen.” The word translated in the ESV as “assurance” and here as “trust” is υποστασις. This word is often translated as “confidence” in the New Testament. The writer of the book of Hebrews is defining πιστις or faith as both “assurance” and “conviction” (ελεγχος). What this tells us my brethren is that biblical faith is not wishful thinking. No, it is an assured confidence in the promises of God. This faith is not blind either for it is based on a trust in God to fulfill His promises to His people.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV)
Where is your faith my brethren? When Christian leaders stumble and reveal that they are something other than the image we had of them through their teachings, do we doubt? Is our faith diminished? I am way past that. These things may take me by surprise sometimes, but my faith is not in any man. My Saviour has given me His Spirit as a guarantee. These men who compromise do so because they are being temporally focused. If they had the right focus, that which is heavenward where their true hope should be, then they would not compromise even though it may be costly in this life to do what is right.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:24-27 ESV)
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:26-33 ESV)
This is the call for the disciple of the Lord Jesus my brethren. There can be no compromise here. Our Lord’s words are very clear. Following Him will be costly and those who do will deny themselves or die to self in all things. Their faith is biblical faith pointing to eternity not to the temporal. Therefore, they serve their Lord and it costs them in this life, but this builds treasure in Heaven. We must walk through this life by faith, not by sight.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV)
This is a call to examine yourselves my brethren. How is it going in this walk? Are you walking by faith that is according to the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen? Or, are you specializing in this world and what it has to offer? Are you ministering for the glory of God or are you trying to have the coolest and biggest ministry this side of Heaven? God is glorified when we obey Him in self-denial all within the humble mindset of our Saviour.
When I read of the compromising Christian leaders all around us it sickens me. It grieves me. However, my faith is not in them. It is based entirely in my assurance of what God has promised to those who belong to Him. These things are not seen now by us, but they are very real to the eyes of faith. Those compromisers will have to give an account to the Lord. What we must do is repent of the inconsistencies in our own walks as we pray for those men to repent and come back into the light.
Our focus must be as the Apostle John wrote in Revelation 22:20, “λεγει ο μαρτυρων ταυτα ναι ερχομαι ταχυ αμην ερχου κυριε ιησου”
Soli Deo Gloria!
Those costly trials that we endure remind us that true discipleship or ministry is not a popularity contest. Obedience to Christ can be painful, shadowed by dry seasons with despair and anguish or joy and victory. Whichever the circumstance, we must be unwilling to compromise our Lord’s command. If we fall prey to relativism, then we do nothing but glory in one another’s flesh. That in itself is spiritual adultery. Relativism feeds the apostasy and results in even more spiritual delusion.
Amen, that’s right Josh!
Satan uses multiculturalism, political correctness, and the Emergent delusion to disarm the saints. He can hinder God’s people by trying to unite the church with the world. It appears that he has unfortunately succeeded in bringing the world into the church, causing even more confusion. The Lord said that he would put a spirit of error into the mouth of the prophets in order to hand men over to strong delusion, because they refuse to love the truth. They would rather believe a lie (whatever is relative to their own imagination) and kill the messenger. After all, it is open season on Christians nowadays in America, and it is even cooler to make them a prey.
My question to the church is.. “Are you drinking the cup of suffering or the cup of strong delusion?”
Amen Mike, and Amen Josh!
I think Packer’s fall is due to his misplaced emphasis on ecclesiology. My guess is that his personal views (at least initially) are orthodox, but he at the same time wants to affirm all who he considers in a Christian church as being believers who are moving towards God, even if these people teach heresy.
Daniel, yes, I agree with that. I wonder how far he will go with that.
I’m reading Pilgrim’s Progress and just finished the part where Faithful dies for his uncompromising faith. Your article reminds me about the part in the book where Mr. Money-Love relays his thoughts about ministers, money and their ministries; how it’s all good any way you do it, bigger is better and riches make it even better. Amazing book.
2Cor 5:6-10 is very encouraging! Courage is what I need to be praying for. It is apparent that people really don’t want to hear the truth as stated in God’s word. Even Christians. We can see that and it is distressing to us.
But, we press on in courage and try to not be overwhelmed by what we see. We pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and minister where we can, speak God’s truth to people as He gives us opportunity and keep our eyes upward knowing our courage comes from the One who is able to keep us in His power by faith for our inheritance.
Diane, you are a Puritan as I am. Bunyan was brilliant and he stated it plainly. Compromise is always fueled by temporal things. Sure we need to be humble and non-threatening to those who hate the truth, but that does not mean that we neglect preaching the teaching the truth and living therein. Amen, well said my sister!
Good post Mike. Yes it just goes to show us that we need to stick to the Bible. We had also heard that J.I. was starting to go off into left field. Someone once said that we are going to be suprised at who makes it and who doesn’t. It makes us leary of who we are sitting under for teaching. You get tired of finding out who you thought was o.k. really isn’t. You get tired of church hopping. Makes you want to just stay at home and read your Bible.
Paul and Luann, yes, I no exactly what you mean. We must pray for wisdom and discernment so that God will give us the guidance we need in this. We must listen to the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, as we discern His voice from that of the evil spirits pretending to be Him.